A Brief Outline of Buddhism

by U Po Sa | 1955 | 19,923 words

A.T.M.,B.A.,B.C.S. (1), F.R.E.S. Author of Ashin Anuraddha's Abhidhammathasangaha in Pali & Burmese...

Chapter 3 - Prince Siddhattha And Enlightenment

After He had acquired the ten Perfections in the highest degree through supreme efforts in many many world cycles, the Future Buddha was born as Prince Siddhattha to King Suddhodana and Queen Maya of Kappilvatthu a kingdom near the Great Himalayas in the year 624 BC. This kingdom was partly in the present Himalayan state of Nepal. At the spot where He was born, Asoka the Great, Emperor of Ancient India, erected a pillar which exists till today with the inscription that the Buddha Gotama was born there. On hearing that the Future Buddha was born to King Suddhodana, Sage Kaladevila, who was the teacher or tutor of King Suddhodana in his young days, came to the palace and the King with delight and joy showed him his newly born son. The Sage, who could look back into the past for forty world cycles and forward into the future for the same number of world cycles by his psychic powers which he acquired by the practice of virtue and concentration, and meditation, saw the characteristics and signs of a Future Buddha on the person of the baby prince and prophesied that the prince would become a Buddha without any manner of doubt in thirty five years from that time. The King then called his brahmins and fortune tellers, and asked them to prophecy the future of his son. All of them with one exception prophesied that if the prince lived a laymans life, he would become a Universal Monarch, if he retired from the world, he would become a Buddha. But the excepted one prophesied that one who possessed such Splendid marks and characteristics as the prince would never live a householders life, but would renounce the world and would undoubtedly become a Buddha.

The King was determined to see his son a Universal Monarch and therefore decided to have no stone unturned to make him never think of renouncing the world. As he was told that prince would renounce the world on seeing an old man, a sick man, a dead man and a monk he kept all such sights away from the prince. He was attended to by youthful and colourful retinue and lived in amusement, comfort and luxury. Also he was married to very beautiful Princess, named Badda Kancana or Yasodhara, the daughter of Suppabuddha, King of Devadaha and brother of Queen Maya. Thus there was nothing wanting in the life of a Prince. Yet at age of twenty nine, while he was on his way to his garden, the gods who were anxious to see him as the Buddha, changed four of themselves into an old man, a sick man, a dead man and a monk and appeared before him. When the Prince saw these four signs he was greatly agitated in his mind and felt a great desire to became a monk and find the way of escape from the miseries of birth, old age, disease and death. At that very moment, he received the intelligence that a son was born to his wife: he felt that while he was in the great fetters of sensual pleasures, another fetter had been added by the birth of his son. He returned to his palace quiet thoughtful and when the night came he went to bed without paying any heed to the music, dance and other amusements that were in attendance on him.

At the dead of the very night, he decided to retire from the world and left his palace and Kingdom on horseback with Channa, on the full moon day of Kasone the second month of Burmese calendar 595 B.C. He crossed the river Anoma which was thirty leagues from his palace. When he got to the other bank of the river, he sent back his attendant Channa and his horse to his palace to break the news of his Renunciation. He became a monk and practised asceticism for six years.

At that time there was a lady named Sujata who made a prayer to a tree god that if she got a husband of equal rank and gave birth to a son as her first born, she would make an offering to the tree god of the value of a hundred pieces of money. Her prayer was fulfilled.

With a desire to make the offering on the full moon day of the month of Kasone on which date the period of Future Buddhas Renunciations would complete six years exactly, she fed a thousand cows with the most nourishing fodder and fed their milk to five hundred cows and the milk of the five hundred cows to two hundred and fifty and so on down to feeding eight cows. On the full moon day of Kasone she got those eight cows milked and made milk rice with this most nourishing milk. When she went to the tree where she made the prayer, she saw the Future Buddha sitting under the tree, and taking him to be the tree god who answered her prayer, she offered her milk rice to the Future Buddha who ate it in forty nine pellets. Till the end of forty nine days from that time he took no further nourishment and lived on the delights of Trances and joys of Fruition.

Then he went to the historic Bo Tree, to which Buddhists from all parts of the world make pilgrimage year in, year out, till today. He took his seat on the eastern side of the tree and resolved that He would destroy all the passions, root and branch there. He made the mighty resolution. " Let my skin, sinews, and bones remain and my flesh and blood dry up, but never from this seat will I move until I have attained the supreme and absolute wisdom. He went on concentrating on his respiration, i.e. , breathing in, and breathing out.

In the first watch of the night, He acquired the knowledge of previous existences in countless world cycles, in the middle watch, the divine eye, and in the last watch His intellect comprehended Dependent Origination.

In the hour of the supreme victory He uttered:

"Seeking in vain the builder of this body, I passed through endless rounds of births. To be born again and again is misery."

In the hour of the supreme victory He uttered:

"Seeking in vain the builder of this body, I passed through endless rounds of births. To be born again and again is misery"

"Oh Craving, the Builder, I have discovered you. You shall not build this body again. All your rafters of impurities are broken and your pinnacle of ignorance is destroyed. My mind has reached Nibbana (Transcendental Summum Bonum) where there is no desire and which is outside the pale of the laws of nature which prevail in the world".

After the Enlightenment The Buddha continued sitting cross legged for sometime under the Bo Tree, experiencing the bliss of emancipation He thought over and over again of the Dependent Origination as follows:

"On ignorance (of the Four Noble Truths) depend moral and immoral thoughts and deeds and bodily and vocal expressions; on moral and immoral thoughts and deeds and bodily and vocal expressions depends consciousness; on consciousness depend material and immaterial factors of an individual; on material and immaterial factors of an individual depend the six organs of sense; on the six organs of sense depends contact; on contact depends sensation; on sensation depends desire; on desire depends attachment; on attachment depends becoming, on becoming depends birth; on birth depends old age, death, sorrow, lamentation, misery, grief and despair".

Ignorance here is the ignorance of the Four Noble Truths, to wit, (1) that all in this world and in all other planes of life is suffering (2) that craving is the cause of suffering (3) that the cessation of craving is the cessation of suffering and (4) that the Noble Eightfold Path is the way of cessation of suffering.

In the following pages of this book is devoted the exposition of this Noble Eightfold Path.

Volitional tendencies are actions of the mind that are moral, immoral thoughts and immediately precede or direct the moral or immoral deeds and bodily and vocal expressions. It is therefore said that on ignorance depend the moral and immoral thoughts and deeds and bodily and vocal expressions. It must be noted here that there are actions of the mind that are neither moral nor immoral but unmoral and inoperative. The moral and immoral thoughts, deeds, and bodily and vocal expressions that are, to put in plain language, directed by the volitional tendencies of ones life, determine the type of his birth, his mental disposition and all his resultant consciousness in the next life. The mental and physical states in the following life depend on resultant consciousness.

His eye organ, ear organ, nose organ, tongue organ, body organ and mind organ depend on his physical and mental states. Depending on those six organs, contact, with the object of cognition, arises: depending on contact sensation arises; depending on sensation desire arises, depending on desire attachment arises; depending on attachment; becoming arises, depending on becoming there is birth. Since there is birth, old age (growth), death, sorrow, lamentation, misery, grief and despair arise. Thus the being goes on because of ignorance of the Four Noble Truths.

Of course the Elect of the Highest Order is not subject to this chain of causation as he had uprooted the ignorance completely and finally. Therefore his activities do not yield result any more for himself.